A plethora of pumpkins and a collection of scarecrows can be seen on the streets of Sundance this weekend as the city hosts its annual Pumpkin Patch Festival.
The festival on Saturday, now in its sixth year, features all of the usual celebrations of autumn, including freshly squeezed apple cider, a farmers market, pumpkin painting and a scarecrow contest.
However, mixed in with the usual goods found at a farmers market are booths set up by local non-profit organizations, which are encouraged by festival organizers to use the community gathering to raise money for their groups.
“I encourage it,” said festival organizer Joni Spaulding. “It’s a good way to raise awareness for their cause.”
The festival is held in downtown Sundance and features a pumpkin patch containing about five tons of pumpkins brought to the community from Ellis Harvest Homes in Lingle.
“They have good quality pumpkins and the people there take very good care of us,” Spaulding said. “As long as they have pumpkins, we’ll get them there.”
The festival is a way for members of the community to get together and to highlight the people who offer their wares at farmers markets.
“I decided a long time ago I wanted our festival to be a community event, where people could come together and meet their local farmers,” said Spaulding, who also owns Sundance’s Harvest Farmers Market, which is open year-round.
The open air market will feature a wide variety of goods, from produce to hand-crafted items, she said.
“You’ve got vendors who come around from all over who set up with their wares,” she said.
A booth fee is charged for vendors, but not the non-profit groups, she added.
The festival also sees the judging of the community’s scarecrow contest, which is open to any business or individual in Sundance.
The contest has been going on for five years and sees very creative entries, such as the “piggy bank” scarecrow submitted by a bank.
“A lot of local businesses and residents design scarecrows and they come up with some pretty creative ideas,” Spaulding said.
The scarecrows entered by businesses are usually set up outside of the businesses, while some scarecrows entered by individuals adorn light poles in downtown Sundance, she said.
The scarecrows will be up by Thursday and during the festival, attendees will be invited to vote for their favorite.
Also on hand will be an apple cider press and those attending the festival can get a glass of freshly squeezed cider and a booth where attendees can paint their recently purchased pumpkins. Or they can ask an artist at another booth to apply his talents to their pumpkins.
Pumpkin bowling, an obstacle course, wagon rides, duck races, pony rides, bounce houses, face painting and carnival games are also planned for the day. A gentleman raising money for his own philanthropic work for children will be at the festival to make balloon animals.
For more information on the Pumpkin Patch Festival, visit the Harvest Farmers Market page on Facebook.